Merlin and the making of the king

Margaret Hodges, 1911-2005

Book - 2004

A retelling of four Arthurian legends, "The Sword in the Stone," "Excalibur," "The Lady of the Lake," and "The Last Great Battle," which feature Merlin, King Arthur, and other familiar figures.

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Location Call Number   Status
Children's Room j398.20942/Hodges Checked In
Folk tales
New York : Holiday House c2004.
1st ed
Item Description
"Retold from Sir Thomas Malory's Morte d'Arthur."
Physical Description
39 p. : ill
Main Author
Margaret Hodges, 1911-2005 (-)
Other Authors
Trina Schart Hyman (illustrator), Thomas Malory, Sir, 15th cent (-)
  • The sword in the stone
  • Excalibur
  • The lady of the lake.
Review by Booklist Reviews

/*Starred Review*/ Gr. 4-6, younger for reading aloud. Undertaking a seemingly impossible task, Hodges distills the many tales of Arthurian legend into a brief but coherent story in three parts. "The Sword in the Stone" tells of Arthur's early years under the guidance of Merlin, ending with his acceptance of Excalibur and its scabbard and his ascension to the throne. "Excalibur" involves the treachery of Morgan le Fay, who twice stole the magic sword and scabbard, and Mordred, who undermined the ideals of the Round Table. "The Lady of the Lake" describes Arthur laying siege to Lancelot's castle, fighting Mordred to the death, and, mortally wounded, being taken to Avalon. An appended author's note discusses her source, Sir Thomas Malory's collection of the legends of King Arthur. Hodges offers children a compact book written with the dignity and spirit of Arthurian tradition, giving meaning and context to the hundreds of tales of knightly deeds that can be found in larger collections as well as picture-book editions. Hyman's illustrations include dramatic acrylic paintings of scenes in the story, ornate initial letters for the text, and elaborate yet graceful seasonal borders on each page. Illuminated with heraldic colors and gold in the glorious tradition of medieval bookmaking, this beautiful volume offers a well-designed introduction to the well-loved tales. ((Reviewed September 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

The creators of the Caldecott Medal-winning Saint George and the Dragon gracefully present three Arthurian legends, adapted from Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. Presented in an elegantly designed volume that recalls illuminated manuscripts, the retellings benefit from Hyman's India ink-and-acrylic compositions, framed by elegant gold-leaf borders (which also encompass the text), and floral decorations that vary with each story. (A concluding artist's note credits their inspiration as the 16th-century Italian Farnese Hours and the 14th-century English Luttrell Psalter.) Hodges crystallizes the main events into fluid prose. In the first and strongest of the three chronicles ("The Sword in the Stone"), she tells of how young Arthur fulfills Merlin's prophecy ("Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone and anvil is rightwise king born of all England") and how he comes to possess Excalibur. In the subsequent tales ("Excalibur" and "The Lady of the Lake"), the author introduces characters fast and furiously, but Hyman's full-page and panel illustrations help to clarify the events. A coy portrait of Guinevere, for instance, substantiates Merlin's claim that "this lady will bring you grief" and facing blood-red panels lay out the battle scene as Mordred and Arthur race toward each other from across the gutter, "a hundred thousand knights lying dead around [them]." The holly vines that frame this last episode make subtle reference to the tale's Christian roots. A compelling introduction to the Arthurian legend. All ages. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 2-6-This is a straightforward, expertly streamlined retelling of three popular Arthurian legends: "The Sword in the Stone," "Excalibur," and "The Lady of the Lake," based on the Winchester College manuscript of Sir Thomas Malory's work. With its fairly simple vocabulary and succinct style, the lyrical narrative can be enjoyed if read independently or in a group setting. The truly distinguishing feature of this book is Hyman's detailed, colorful acrylic artwork, which works so well at conveying the action of the stories. In keeping with the feel of a medieval illuminated manuscript, each page has an attractive, elaborate border partially painted with gold ink that glows with all the richness of gold leaf. The initial letter of each tale is beautifully embellished, also contributing to the antique style of the book. Pair this with the author and illustrator's Saint George and the Dragon (Little, Brown, 1984) for another exemplary look at British legends, stunningly illustrated.-Lynda Ritterman, Atco Elementary School, Waterford, NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A retelling of four Arthurian legends, "The Sword in the Stone," "Excalibur," "The Lady of the Lake," and "The Last Great Battle," which feature Merlin, King Arthur, and other familiar figures.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A retelling of three Arthurian legends, "The Sword in the Stone," "Excalibur," and "The Lady of the Lake," which feature Merlin, King Arthur, and other familiar figures.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Merlin the magician watches over the young King Arthur while the nefarious witch Morgan le Fay and the traitor Mordred plot Arthur's demise, in a collection of three Arthurian tales.